ASPCA Partnership in Charleston County, S.C. Achieves Community-wide Live Release Rate of 63 Percent through First Eight Months of 2011

September 30, 2011

NEW YORK--Homeless dogs and cats in Charleston County have a new leash on life, thanks to a partnership with the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), which today announced that its partnership in Charleston County, S.C. achieved a community-wide Live Release Rate of 63 percent through the first eight months of 2011.

The number of adoptions, returns-to-owner, returns-to-field and transfers to shelters where adoption is guaranteed--initiatives all designed to promote positive outcomes for at-risk animals and reduce euthanasia--in relation to the number of animals coming into the sheltering system, is referred to as the community-wide "Live Release Rate," or LRR. This is the first time that the Charleston County community has eclipsed the 60 percent threshold for LRR during a 12-month period. For the 12 months ending August 31, 2011, 63 percent of the dogs and cats entering the sheltering system were live releases. The Live Release Rates for puppies (79 percent), dogs (61 percent), kittens (56 percent), and cats (65 percent) all are the highest rates ever for a 12-month period.

"Charleston really is moving the needle - for the first time, the community is seeing a decreasing trend in the intake of puppies and kittens at the community's shelters," said ASPCA President and CEO Ed Sayres. "That is a tremendous accomplishment. Their progress has been very steady and we hope to see them accomplish even more through continued collaboration."

Partner agencies in Charleston also increased spay/neuter surgeries by 25 percent increase through the first eight months of the year, and in addition, Charleston Animal Society and Pet Helpers launched a new 'Pet Protector' partnership program in August to spread awareness of the importance of spay/neuter. As part of the Pet Protector program, pet owners may bring their pet in to be spayed or neutered for a flat fixed rate of $50 through December 2011. Pet owners also will receive a Pet Protector Savings booklet which includes coupons and deals from area retailers.

Charles Karesh, president of Charleston Animal Society, one of the ASPCA's local partners, said, "Charleston is grateful to Humane Net and Pet Helpers for their large role in our success. Collaboration with the ASPCA and our local partners has been vital in helping us significantly increase community participation in spay/neuter - the leading factor in saving lives."

"Spaying and neutering not only helps reduce animal homelessness, but has numerous behavioral and health benefits for these dogs and cats as well," said Carol Linville, president and founder of Pet Helpers, another ASPCA partner in Charleston. "By combining our efforts, we are able to continue to improve the lives of both animals and people of Charleston County," concluded Cary Stout, president of Humane Net, Inc., a non-profit organization, and the ASPCA's third local partner in Charleston.

The ASPCA Partnership is a unique collaboration with communities nationwide to increase the live release rate by saving those animals most at risk through sustainable data-driven plans and programs. These engage the community to reunite lost animals with their families, increase adoptions, target spay/neuter and support feral cats and Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) initiatives.

Since the partnership began in 2008, the ASPCA has provided more than $680,000 in grant funding to the partner agencies in Charleston. In addition to Charleston, S.C., ASPCA partners have provided positive outcomes for homeless animals in many communities around the country, including Austin, Texas; Buncombe County, N.C.; Cleveland, Ohio; Miami-Dade County, Fla.; Oklahoma City, Okla.; Sacramento, Calif.; Shelby County, Ala.; Spokane, Wash.; and Tallahassee, Fla.